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PatrickT
PatrickT asks:
Q:

How do I motivate my son to reach his potential?

My son is 19 years old and has been out of high school for one year.  He is floundering with no direction and no goals.  I have tried to talk to him about going to college bet he refuses to go.  He is quite intelligent but did not perform well in school even though he has the aptitude.  His personality is quite stubborn and he has his mind set that he does not want to go to school.  I have tried to encourage him to find a vocation such as a plubmer or electrician, but he still seems to completely unmotivated.  How do I motiviate him to want to create a future for himself?
In Topics: Motivation and achievement at school, Alternatives to college
> 60 days ago

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Expert

LouiseSattler
Jun 7, 2011
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What the Expert Says:

Hello and thank you for writing to JustAsk!

It would seem that maybe he needs to talk to someone who can inspire him, such as a mentor or a teacher he liked in high school.  Next, perhaps he would enjoy sampling non-credit courses at a local community college, where the pressure of exams and homework are off and learning is the key.  He can meet others his age and take classes that are of interest to him.  There are a number of computer courses that many enjoy.  Also, community colleges can provide interest inventories to help with selection of a "path".

Another suggestion would be for him to perhaps volunteer his time at local organizations or become involved in national ones, such as Habitat for Humanity.

Good luck!

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Additional Answers (4)

MeGgSs
MeGgSs writes:
Do you know what he did in his free time? If so, try to fine a job that relates to that. If not, maybe thte next time he and his friends hang ask them about him. Or you could even talk with him your self.
> 60 days ago

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hiimmary
hiimmary , Student writes:
It is harder to motivate older kids. Especially teenagers, because their already wanting to be independent. You should research ways to motivate, read phyciatrisyt journals, go to a professional on this stuff. And if you have to, scare him straight. Show him somehow that his life will be better, and happier with a proper education, and positive motivation. There is no straight answer to this. It's going to take alot of chipping at. But I'd say, the best, most effective thing you can do right now. Don't give up on him yet. He is still young, and in his darkest of times will depend on you. I wish you luck. :).
> 60 days ago

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EducationExpert
EducationEx... writes:
This is a giant challenge facing many parents.  It is such a large challenge that our society will face a crisis of what I call "Lost Boys" related to all the young men who do not go onto higher education yet refuse to consider wise suggestions such as yours to consider a trade.
But, of course, you are interested in how you can help your son.  You have to first understand him his deep core motivations.  I know you understand him like a father.  But, you have to understand him also as a coach.  What is causing his paralysis?  What are his motivational triggers?  I wrote a book, "Motivate Your Son" that I believe could help you - and I apologize for pitching it here as the solution - but it directly addresses your question in a comprehensive way.  You can find it on Amazon or you can check our website below.
> 60 days ago

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EducationExpert
EducationEx... writes:
1. Determine his core motivational framework.

Here's what I mean: We all are wired with certain dominant patterns.  Some people want public admiration; some want to feel special; some want freedom; some want peacefulness; some want security; some want to feel significant within relationship; some want to feel they are doing the right thing; and some want to feel in control.  "Dominant" is the key word as each of the motivational triggers listed above are relevant to most people.  But, what does your son really value.  If you are having a hard time figuring this out, provide a personality profiling test that might give insight.

2. Figure out ways to communicate within the framework.

Let's say that your son's dominant motivational framework is the desire for freedom.  Focus on the notion that his lack of motivation will ultimately make his lose freedom because he will have to work in dead end jobs for other people and that he will gain freedom if he motivates himself to build skills, credentials, connections, and other work aptitudes that will give him the opportunity to create his own work world.

3. Find realistic work or school opportunities that could suit him

I am a big proponent of the trades for non-academic types.  So your suggest to consider vocational training is excellent.  With that said, he will still need to build his work character even if he gets on a distinct path.

Good luck,

Daryl Capuano
Author, Motivate Your Son
CEO, The Learning Consultants
3 days ago

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